Three weeks of the new NBA season is now history and, in that span, there were a few starts that have left fans scratching their heads.
It’s too early to say whether these teams’ current surge (or struggles) will be the norm, but it’s interesting to compare how they’ve been doing so far relative to preseason projections.
ABS-CBN News picked out 8 teams that have surprised the league either in a good or a bad way.
The projected Eastern Conference champions are off to a stormy start, missing Kyrie Irving’s production and Isaiah Thomas who will be out for a little while longer.
Only Chicago and Atlanta have a worse record than Cleveland (4-6). David Richard, USA Today Sports/Reuters
One long-time NBA writer thought little of the Pistons’ chances this year. (A majority did.) But now, one of the most disappointing teams last season has started the season 7-3 and rank second behind Boston in the East.
They’ve beaten West heavyweights such as Golden State and Minnesota, thanks to stronger, “more mature” play this season by Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, and the seamless integration of offseason acquisition Avery Bradley. Wendell Cruz, USA Today Sports/Reuters
The outlook wasn’t good for the Pacers when Paul George left. According to NBA.com, “almost everything will have to go right for the Pacers” if they want to overachieve. And, boy, have they.
New Pacers Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis have proven to be better than expected. With Myles Turner (concussion) returning, Indiana tries to improve on its 5-5 record (they’ve lost 2 in a row after a promising 5-3 start) and figure in the thick of things in a competitive conference. Brian Spurlock, USA Today Sports/Reuters
After winning 3 of their last 4 games — 2 of those against tough opponents Memphis and Detroit — the Lakers, seen as a circus heading into the season, are bunched together with 3 other teams in 8th place out West with identical 5-5 records.
There seems to be some drama brewing with LaVar Ball, Lonzo’s dad, complaining that his son isn’t getting much court time late.
But as Ball adjusts, fellow rookie and draft steal Kyle Kuzma, offseason pickup Brook Lopez and sophomore Brandon Ingram (who looks more confident on an NBA court) have carried the load for a Lakers team looking to stop a 4-season playoff drought. Kelvin Kuo, USA Today Sports/Reuters
With Giannis Antetokounmpo producing MVP numbers, the Bucks’ hot start wasn’t surprising, but after going 4-2 they’ve lost 3 straight so that’s mildly shocking.
Consistency seems to be an issue, besides a thin bench without Greg Monroe (calf strain) and Thon Maker still searching for his groove.
With disgruntled Phoenix Sun guard Eric Bledsoe looking to join Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee, that could reverse the Bucks’ suddenly sagging fortunes. Benny Sieu, USA Today Sports/Reuters
The Knicks looked on their way to fulfilling their destiny as the league’s laughingstock when they dropped their first 3 games. After a subsequent 6-game stretch in which it won 5, New York is slowly but surely shedding its reputation as a league joke.
The reason for this (really early) rosy picture has been the unreal play of Kristaps Porzingis, who is scoring a league second-best 30.2 points on 50% shooting on top of 2.2 blocks.
In the post-Melo era, the prognostication was the Knicks would go only as far as Porzingis could take them. He’s growing by leaps and bounds, so it’ll be interesting to see whether that’ll hold true as well for a long-suffering franchise. Noah K. Murray, USA Today Sports/Reuters
The new pieces provided a glimpse of a bright future. For now, though, the focus remains on looking to get Paul George and Carmelo Anthony meshing well with Russell Westbrook and the rest of the Thunder.
At 4-5, OKC is way off the preseason forecast pegging it to challenge the Golden State for Western supremacy.
According to The Oklahoman website, the Thunder, while the defensive numbers are pretty, need to work better on that end of the court, as well as their passing. Mark D. Smith, USA Today Sports/Reuters
Like Indiana, Orlando’s unlikely fast start can be attributed to individual players stepping up; in the Magic’s case, they are Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier and Nic Vucevic.
The Magic, who momentarily held the top spot after blowing Cleveland and San Antonio out of the water, have slid back to reality with back-to-back losses, but they could get back on track once they Elfrid Payton, another player due for a breakout season, returns from a hamstring issue. Kim Klement, USA Today Sports/Reuters
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